Monday, January 31, 2011

Bayh Takes Job With D.C. Lobbying Firm

Dan Coats and Evan Bayh have officially switched places. Former Sen. Dan Coats gave up his Senate seat in 1998 so Evan Bayh could become a U.S. Senator and Dan Coats could become a Washington, D.C. lobbyist. In 2010 Bayh returned the Senate seat to D.C. lobbyist Dan Coats so he could become a D.C. lobbyist. After announcing just last week he had taken a job as a senior adviser to Apollo Global Management, Bayh announces a second job he has taken with D.C. lobbying law firm McGuire Woods, which lobbies for banking, utility, health insurers and big Pharma. The firm's lobbying clients include Duke Energy, which is run by Bayh's old pal Jim Rogers, Anthem, Verizon, the NBA and Fifth Third Bank. Between Bayh and his wife Susan, they have accumulated tens of millions of dollars trading on his public service through gigs with big law firms, corporate board seats and corporate jobs. The Coats-Bayh revolving door tradition from public service to lobbying is why you no longer have a chance of having your voices heard in Washington. These guys are bought and paid for by interests that don't give a damn about ordinary Americans. Instead, they carry water for international corporate interests, supporting policies that have brought our nation to complete economic ruin while they enrich themselves and their true masters. Think about that as you watch the foundations of this once great nation crumble before your very eyes.

Rahm Blessed By Opponents

The leading African-American candidate for Chicago mayor is former U.S. Senator Carol Mosely-Braun. She has been the subject of numerous news reports concerning her financial problems and difficulties paying her taxes in a timely manner. Braun has always been known for her sharp tongue. When I used to work for the Illinois House Republicans, she once referred to my boss House Republican Leader Lee Daniels as the Ayatollah Khomeini during debate over a threatened shutdown of state government over the budget. Yesterday, she took a similar low road in a candidates forum when she suggested one of her opponents who questioned her commitment to the community didn't know better because she had been strung out on crack for the last 20 years. CBS2 in Chicago has the story:

A fiery exchange occurred Sunday between mayoral candidates Carol Moseley Braun and Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins, as allegations of drug use dominated a candidates forum.

When Watkins questioned where Braun had been for 20 years, the latter candidate fired back by saying Watkins had been using crack-cocaine.

“Patricia, the reason you didn’t know where I was for the last 20 years is because you were strung out on crack,” Braun, staring at Watkins, said at Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side. “Now, you have admitted to that.”

Watkins denied the charge before forum organizers cut her short. The community activist has admitted past drug use but says she has been sober for 25 years.

Braun, a former U.S. senator and ambassador, offered no apologies. Watkins planned to hold a news conference Monday morning to respond in more detail.

Rahm Emanuel, who skipped this lively candidates forum, picked up the endorsement of the Chicago Sun-Times today.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pacers Fire Coach Jim O'Brien

It looks like the Indiana Pacers took Star sports columnist Bob Kravitz blistering column last Friday about Coach Jim O'Brien to heart. The Star reports on O'Brien's firing following the team's disappointing loss last night to the Chicago Bulls where O'Brien got tossed by officials from the game after receiving two technical fouls. The Star's Mike Wells reports on a 4:00 p.m. press conference called this afternoon to make the announcement official:

The Indiana Pacers have parted ways with head coach Jim O'Brien according to multiple sources.

The Pacers considered firing O'Brien after the team returned from its 0-4 West Coast road trip, according to a source.

Assistant Frank Vogel is expected to coach the team for the remainder of the season.

The Pacers have a called a 4 p.m. press conference.
Known for not mincing words when it comes to offering opinions, the Star's Bob Kravitz called on the Pacers to end the charade and fire O'Brien.

It's time for Simon, whose franchise is mired in a horrific slump and remains south of a playoff spot in the woebegone Eastern Conference, to do the hard thing and make the change the ever-dwindling fan base demands.

He needs to tell team president Larry Bird to fire Jim O'Brien, then insist that Bird coach this group for the rest of the season.

If Bird refuses to do it, then Simon has to drop O'Brien, hire an interim coach off the Pacers' bench and tell Bird his services will no longer be needed after this season.

Something has to change, and it has to change before this disappointing season is completely lost.

Will Bird or an interim coach make any real difference?

There's no guarantee.

But by making a change now, Simon will send a very strong and important message to this city: We won't stand for this any longer . . .
O'Brien lives in my neighborhood and, unlike other Pacer coaches, has been very active in the community, particularly at St. Mary's Catholic church. O'Brien, who owns homes in other states, will likely return to one of those homes. He will be sorely missed by the community groups who benefited from his and his wife Sharon's charitable efforts and strong community spirit.

A controversial decision by the Capital Improvement Board last year rewarded the Pacers with a $33.5 million subsidy to cover operating expenses on Conseco Fieldhouse, which the team uses rent-free and from which it is allowed to retain all revenues for both game and non-game related events, and to purchase a new digital ribbon board and scoreboard for the Fieldhouse. Mayor Greg Ballard insisted the subsidy was necessary to prevent the team from leaving the city, although penalty provisions in their long-term lease would have allowed the CIB to collect a large break-up fee, largely offsetting any attending harm from the team's departure. Pacers owner Herb Simon bought out the 50% interest of his late brother Mel last year from his estate for an undisclosed sum. The Pacers owner has made dubious claims the team has lost $150 million in recent years since moving into the new Conseco Fieldhouse taxpayers were forced to build in place of Market Square Arena, which was later leveled, in order to keep the team from relocating.

UPDATE: Listening to Larry Bird explain the firing at the live press conference. Bird not happy that O'Brien wasn't giving enough playing time to the younger players. Bird said Herb Simon left it up to him to make the call to replace O'Brien with assistant coach Frank Vogel. Bird also said Herb told him there was plenty of money to make any trades Bird thought was needed to continue the team's rebuilding efforts, which makes one wonder whether Herb wasn't speaking out of both sides of his mouth as Bren Simon says he has a tendency to do when he claimed the team was bleeding cash badly and needed the $33.5 million subsidy Mayor Greg Ballard was all too happy to give his team.

UPDATE II: Vogel speaking now live at the press conference. He says the Pacers have a great team and he's confident he can turn the team around quickly. Vogel thinks the plan all along was for him to succeed O'Brien eventually, if not under these circumstances. Vogel says he is confident he has the players' support.

UPDATE III: Bob Kravitz take is that the call to fire O'Brien was made by Herb Simon, not Larry Bird:

This was the owner's call, pure and simple. This was Herb Simon rolling into team president Larry Bird's office last week and telling the Hoosier legend that a head coaching change must be made.

The Indiana Pacers will try to sell it otherwise, and even Bird tried to sell it Sunday afternoon as his decision, but that's a complete fabrication. Simon wanted coach Jim O'Brien gone after the team's winless West Coast trip, and when that didn't happen, Simon insisted upon O'Brien's ouster after Wednesday's miserable home performance against Orlando . . .

Hawaii Democratic Legislators Want To Allow State To Profit From Sale Of Obama Birth Records

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) first renewed the debate over President Barack Obama's eligibility to be president of the United States when he pledged to release to the public state records that would prove once and for all Obama's birth in the Aloha State. A few weeks after taking office, Abercrombie backpedaled and said state privacy laws prohibited him from releasing any of Obama's birth records, indicating instead people would just have to accept his word there was a record of Obama's birth "written down" somewhere in the state's archives. Now several Democratic Hawaii lawmakers want to sell those same records to the public for $100.00 a pop and have introduced legislation to accomplish their goal. KHON2 News in Honolulu reports:

Some Hawaii lawmakers see a way out of the state budget hole by capitalizing on doubts about President Obama's birth certificate . . .

“If the people are so concerned about Barack Obama and if he was actually born in Hawaii, born in the United States, let them pay a fee of 100 bucks,” said Rep. John Mizuno, one of the Democratic co-sponsors of the measure. “We can certainly use the money, and we don't need to hear their complaining anymore."

Lawmakers sponsoring the bill say they'll need to clear confidentiality hurdles since state law prohibits Department of Health disclosure of any information about a Hawaii vital record unless the requestor has a “direct and tangible interest in the record.”

"We're hoping to work with our legal department, the Attorney General's office, for an opinion to see if we can craft something which will justify that it is true, Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, and will have the state seal to certify that,” Mizuno said. “Something very generic but won't violate any federal or state law."

If they clear that hurdle, they say, there are big bucks in store.

"So if there's 1 million people on the mainland asking for his birth certificate, send over $100 check or money order, and we'll send you over something certifying that he was born in Hawaii. That's 1 million people -- that's $100 million to the state,” Mizuno said. “The president of the United States, the No. 1 person in our country, from Hawaii -- we need to capitalize. If we don't take advantage of it, we're out of our minds. This is a golden opportunity."
The legislation under consideration, HB 1116, would allow the state's Department of Health to sell for $100.00 the birth records of any person who is a candidate for or elected to an office that requires them to be a U.S. citizen "either natural born or naturalized." The inclusion of the birth records of persons who are naturalized in the legislation is peculiar as the state's vital records in theory should only include the records of persons born in Hawaii. Naturalized citizens are persons born in other countries who become citizens under provisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Act after first becoming permanent residents of the United States and maintaining their status continuously for a minimum number of years. Critics of Hawaii's vital records law contend it permits Hawaii residents to record the births of their children in Hawaii, even in cases where the child was born outside the state. On that basis, these critics maintain that Hawaii records that might otherwise record Obama's birth there are meaningless unless an original long-form birth certificate signed by the attending physician at the hospital where Obama was born was filed with the state. Obama's 2008 campaign released a certificate of live birth issued by the state's Department of Health in 2007 but not the original long-form birth certificate like the campaign of Sen. John McCain released that showed his birth took place in Panama, where his father was stationed while serving in the U.S. Navy.

Legal scholars disagree over what the term "natural born citizen" means. It has never been addressed directly by the Supreme Court as applied to a presidential candidate. The only place the term is used in the constitution is the eligibility requirements for president and vice-president. Members of Congress are only required to be citizens; therefore, even naturalized citizens are eligible to serve in Congress. Many argue the term includes anyone born on U.S. soil. Others argue it includes only children born of U.S. citizens on U.S soil. In the case of Obama, while his mother was a U.S. citizen, his father was not. His father's Kenyan citizenship made him a dual citizen at birth. Kenya was a commonwealth of Great Britain at the time of his birth. In addition, school records in Indonesia where Obama once lived with his mother and adopted father, Lolo Soetoro, indicate he was also a citizen of that country and went by the name "Barry Soetoro." Thirdly, many legal scholars argue natural born citizens includes children born abroad to U.S. citizens, such as was the case with John McCain.

The U.S. Constitution requires a person be at least 35 years of age, be a natural born citizen and have resided in the United States for at least 14 years in order to serve as president or vice-president. In the wake of the 2008 presidential election where both major party candidates faced legal challenges from citizens as to their constitutional eligibility, state lawmakers in at least 10 states have introduced legislation to require candidates to submit proof of their eligibility as a requirement for obtaining access to a state's ballot. In Indiana, Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel) has introduced SB 114, which would require a presidential candidate to submit a certified copy of his birth certificate with the state's Election Division and such other evidence as may be necessary to establish the candidate's constitutional eligibility (e.g, a case where the candidate's birth certificate would show birth abroad) and attest to his eligibility. In addition, political parties would be required to certify the eligibility of their candidates nominated for president and vice-president on the certificate of nomination they file for their candidates with the state's Election Division. As was discovered in the 2008 presidential campaign, Republicans certified John McCain and Sarah Palin were constitutionally eligible to serve, while the Democrats omitted similar language on the certificate of nomination they filed for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

In yet another strange twist in Hawaii, the man Gov. Neil Abercrombie nominated to become the state's public health director who oversees the state's vital records was compelled to withdraw his nomination to that post by Abercrombie. News reports suggested Dr. Neal Palafox was under investigation for medical billing irregularities and had voluntarily withdrawn his nomination, but Palafox told reporters he knew of no investigation. "Palafox has said he was blindsided by the turn of events," the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported. "He has said he was not aware of a medical reimbursement investigation mentioned in a television news report or any other matter that would have jeopardized his nomination or state Senate confirmation." Palafox's attorney says the entire matter is "a complete mystery." "He had no idea why the governor asked him to resign. But he did because the governor asked him to do so," [Brook] Hart said. "He has no information at this point why there's an investigation, what the investigation is about or even a hint about what it is that somebody is claiming that he did wrong."

Unexplained Explosion Blows Five Manholes Downtown

Downtown Indianapolis residents near the intersection of Michigan and New Jersey Streets and Massachusetts Avenue were awakened early this morning by the sounds of an underground explosion that blew open five manholes. Citizens Gas and Indianapolis Power & Light workers are on the scene investigating the cause of the explosion. I spoke to workers a few minutes ago who said the cause of the explosion is still a mystery. There have been no reported outages in the area, although residents are advised to avoid the area due to street closures near the scene.

Indiana Equality Benefactor Never Fulfilled Pledge, AIDS Memorial Funds Unaccounted For

In 2006, a Fort Wayne activist and founder of the Northeast Indiana AIDS Memorial pledged $200,000 to Indiana Equality to fight efforts in the Indiana General Assembly to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages, which are already barred under a state statute. Indiana Equality sought 200 donations of $1,000 each to match the pledge made by Otis Vincent, whose son had succumbed to AIDS a few years earlier and added Vincent to its board of directors. At a rally opposing the constitutional ban, Vincent upped his pledge to $275,000. According to Indiana Equality, Vincent's money was coming from a coal mine he had allegedly inherited in Kentucky. Vincent, now in bankruptcy, never donated any money to Indiana Equality and creditors who helped build an AIDS memorial in Fort Wayne claim they were never paid by Vincent for work they performed on constructing it. And it turns out this was the third time Vincent found himself in a bankruptcy court. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports:

In 2004, Fort Wayne resident Otis Vincent announced bold plans to build a memorial in Fort Wayne in memory of people who had died of AIDS.

Seven years later, the memorial, built under the name of a non-profit called the Northeast Indiana AIDS Memorial, has been completed.

Vincent, however, who has declared bankruptcy twice before, is back in bankruptcy court a third time, nearly $230,000 in the red to scores of debtors, including several landscaping companies and nurseries that helped build the memorial but say they were never paid for their work.

In the past several years, Vincent has sought publicity by taking part in various AIDS-related events, including marches, fundraisers and memorial events at the AIDS Memorial. He was the subject of several news articles, including one in which he claimed to have raised $50,000 for the memorial . . .

Lawns Plus, which did landscaping work for the memorial, performed several thousand dollars’ worth of work. Owner Jamie Jones, who was represented by a lawyer during last week’s hearing, says his records show he never received any payment for his work, though he says he recalls getting a payment of about $1,100 several years ago. Lawns Plus has a $17,763 claim in Vincent’s bankruptcy.

Other nurseries and landscaping companies that returned our calls also said they had never been paid for their work or materials they had supplied for the memorial.

Meanwhile, other creditors that lent Vincent money confronted him about claims that he was the heir to land in Kentucky that contained coal and that he would get millions of dollars from its sale and repay them.

Vincent had made that claim in 2006 when Indiana Equality, an organization that represents gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, launched a fundraising effort. Vincent, who had earlier pledged $200,000 to the group, announced at that rally that he was increasing his pledge to $275,000.

When asked whether Vincent had ever given the organization any money, the organization’s answer was, “Not a nickel.”

Mark St, John, an administrative agent for Indiana Equality, said that Vincent told them he would be getting money from a coal mine.

“It was a logical story,” St. John said. “It hung together. It all seemed to make sense.”

When the organization had questions, though, Vincent offered little information, St. John said.

“Sometime that summer we quietly backed away,” realizing there was no money coming, St. John said.
In bankruptcy court, the newspaper account indicates Vincent gave very vague answers about questions pertaining to contributions he raised from the public for the AIDS memorial. The bankruptcy court was not even able to ascertain at the hearing whether a bank account even existed for the nonprofit Vincent claimed to have established.

During the hearing, Vincent’s answers were vague. In the end, it wasn’t firmly established where the non-profit might have opened a bank account, or when, or when it was closed.

Vincent could offer no accounting for donations made to the Northeast Indiana AIDS Memorial and no clear estimate of the amount of donations made to the memorial, other than a guess about how much people paid to have personalized bricks included in the memorial.

At one point during the hearing, Vincent said that before the AIDS Memorial received its non-profit status, it used the Fort Wayne Community Foundation as an umbrella organization.

We contacted the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne and asked about that. No, said Dave Bennett, the executive director, his organization never handled money for the AIDS Memorial. But it did give a $25,000 grant to the memorial that was handled through what was then known as the Fort Wayne Community Education Center.

Tom Pehlke, who runs Lindenwood Cemetery, which donated the land where the memorial is located, said that grant came from a cemetery endowment that had been turned over to the Community Foundation. That $25,000 grant did pay for the monument, some benches and other construction.
It looks like the Kentucky coal mine story Vincent told people was a total fraud as well.

Vincent apparently is an heir to some land in Kentucky that contains coal, but in the court hearing he said several people share a claim. The land was listed in documents as having a value of $1,763, though Vincent testified it was worth $17,630, according to tax records . . .

In the hearing, Williams asked Vincent whether he had taken several people to Owensboro, Ky., telling them the mine had been sold and the money was in his account. Vincent acknowledged he had. Vincent also said that he had never sold the mine or tried to sell it and never had any money.

The bankruptcy hearing then abruptly came to a halt when Vincent took the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer any further questions.

When a question was posed to Vincent about signatures on certain documents, he declined to answer, extending his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. This led the hearing officer to end the hearing; another will be scheduled.

The future of the memorial meanwhile is in doubt with no endowment funded to maintain its ongoing expenses. This is just a string of frauds in Indiana related to nonprofit charities that claim to have been benefiting AIDS causes. Read more about those here and  here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Let's Keep Our Priorities Straight, Please

I don't know about you folks, but I've had my fill of Indianapolis' civic leaders and their pie-in-the sky view of what hosting the Super Bowl next year will mean to the future of this city. If you're like me, you won't be able to afford to attend this annual event reserved only for the rich and famous and the politicians who lick and grovel at their feet. The IBJ's Chris O'Malley continues the drivel being pumped out on an almost daily basis by the local news media as city leaders await this event, which will wind up costing the taxpayers of this city far more than it will ever return in economic reward. If you don't believe me, take a drive north to Detroit and look at what a shit hole that city is after tens of millions of public dollars were poured down that rat hole for a one-day event. While neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis are crumbling and full of despair, perhaps just one inciting incident away from becoming more like Cairo today than some shining city on a hill, here's what our esteemed civic leaders are focused on:

You haven’t walked along the downtown canal on a summer evening, mesmerized by the skyline reflecting on the water. You’ve not meandered Monument Circle or one of the nation’s top downtown malls, Circle Centre.

All you know is you’ve just flown into a fancy new airport terminal and as you drive toward downtown on Interstate 70 the scenery is deteriorating. A 1950s-era house facing the highway near Holmes and McCarty has a blue tarp over a damaged wall and appears to have a deer stand nailed to its roof.

Exiting toward downtown on West Street, you pass a row of industrial buildings, paint peeling from their cinder-block walls. And what’s that long ribbon of corrugated metal obstructing your view of downtown? It must be someone’s interpretation of the Berlin Wall, applied to historic Union Station’s train shed.

Imagine these aesthetic abominations as your first impression of the city, and you’ll get some idea of the challenge facing image-conscious civic leaders ahead of next February’s Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Well, welcome to Indianapolis. Drive around the city and you'll discover the landscape these civic leaders fret about letting visitors to the Super Bowl take in is nothing compared to the ugliness the residents who live and pay taxes here are treated to every day. Don't expect us to give a damn what these people who fly into the city in their corporate-owned jets for one day of partying on the company dime think. If you're that worried, suggest they fly on rented helicopters from the airport to the helipad downtown like the elites already do when heading to the Indianapolis 500 or Brickyard 400 at the Speedway so their eyes won't be burning from these eyesores we live with daily. For the unfortunate visitors who have to suffer through that atrocious drive from the airport to downtown in their stretch window-tinted limousines, I highly doubt they will be taking in the sights along the route anyway. They will be too consumed looking up the short skirts of the babes they brought along with them for their entertainment or admiring their latest cosmetic surgery fixes in their compact mirrors. If our $750 million Lucas Oil Stadium and the more than a billion dollars of public investment in our downtown paid for with our taxes isn't good enough for these visitors, then let them go f_ _ _ themselves.

I sometimes wonder whether these journalists who crank out this crap to appease the civic leaders in this town take any pride in their work. If the NFL players go on strike and the Super Bowl isn't played here next year, I sure won't be shedding any tears. Maybe then these civic leaders can return their focus to "real life" matters. And maybe the people who call themselves journalists can focus on issues that are relevant to the rest of us.

Medical Examiner Confirms Former Bush Official Murdered

I earlier discussed the tragic death of John P. Wheeler III, a former member of George W. Bush's administration who turned up dead in a landfill in Delaware on New Year's eve. There has been a lot of conspiracies circulating about why he may have been killed after he made a short trip to D.C. shortly before he turned up dead. Weeks later, a medical examiner has confirmed Wheeler was killed as a result of "brunt force trauma":

Homicide victim John P. Wheeler III, a former Pentagon official and presidential aide whose body was discovered Dec. 31 in a Wilmington landfill, was beaten to death in an assault, the Delaware medical examiner’s office announced today.

The official cause of Wheeler’s slaying was “blunt force trauma,’’ agency spokesman Karl Kanefsky said about a case that has drawn worldwide media coverage.

Police reiterated today that the case remains under investigation but acknowledge they cannot fill in critical gaps in the murder mystery.

Within hours of the grisly New Year’s Eve discovery, state pathologists had ruled that the 66-year-old New Castle resident was a homicide victim, but until today authorities had been mum on the cause of his death -- an unusual posture in Delaware, where such information is usually released promptly.

The four-week delay has helped fuel rampant speculation that Wheeler, a defense consultant and expert on chemical and biological weapons, was poisoned by enemies -- a theory that persisted in part because he was seen stumbling around Wilmington in the days before he died and officials said they were awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

As troubling as Wheeler's death is, I found it more troubling that he was wandering the streets in a disoriented state for at least two days and nobody bothered to come to his rescue. The medical examiner's toxicology report makes it clear drugs played no role in him appearing to others to be disoriented.
Wheeler is believed to have been on a train from Washington, D.C., to Wilmington on Dec. 28, Newark police said.

A cabbie interviewed by The News Journal, however, said he picked Wheeler up at the train station on Dec. 29.

Video and witness accounts of Wheeler's behavior in the 48 hours before his body was found show him disoriented, carrying one of his dress shoes, and looking in vain for his car in a Wilmington parking garage blocks from where his vehicle was located.

On Dec. 30, Wheeler was captured on surveillance video at the Nemours building at 10th and Orange streets in downtown Wilmington, where he asked for train fare at the Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz law firm.

The last image of him that day was leaving the Nemours building and walking southeast on 11th Street, past and through the Hotel du Pont valet parking area. He continued southeast and crossed Market Street and was last seen in camera view at 8:42 p.m. walking toward the East Side, a low-income neighborhood known as a hot spot for crime.

Freelance investigative reporter Wayne Madsen has a different take on Wayne Madsen Reports as to what might have happened to Wheeler, who he notes was an Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force when the Minot, North Dakota nuclear missile fiasco took place back in 2007. He notes Wheeler is among a string of odd deaths involving people tied to the incident:

John Wheeler III, special assistant to Air Force Secretary during the 2007 B-52 nuke incident at Minot, found dead in Delaware landfill

What the "news" is not telling you is -

Wheeler was the assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force in the George W. Bush Administration. It was the Secretary of the Air Force who discovered that Richard Cheney had set up an alternative chain of command to the nuclear weapons wing of the AF. In the process, six minutemen missiles armed with nuclear warheads were secretly transported from Minot AFB to Barksdale AFB. The later is the chief staging base for the Middle East war. The alarm system for the weapons was deactivated for the transport, something that not even the base commander could authorize. The orders had to have come from above. Many point to Cheney. Before the warheads could be flown via B-52 to the Iraq/Iran theater, the Secretary of the Air Force ordered the stand-down of all B-52 flights. When he discovered the alternative chain of command to Cheney, he fired all military personnel who were involved. Cheney was said to have been livid. The Secretary ordered an investigation of what the AF press release called an oversight, and 70 enlisted men and 5 officers were removed from the Minot nuclear system.

At the same time, people involved began to die mysteriously. Wheeler is only the latest casualty.
While I'm on the topic of strange deaths and Wayne Madsen, he also has an interesting take on the "freak accident" in which D.C. lobbyist Ashley Turton burned up in her automobile after a low speed collision in her home's garage near Capitol Hill:

Progress Energy lobbyist and ex-chief of staff to Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ashley Westbrook Turton, opened the door of her BMW suburban utility vehicle a few minutes before 5 am on January 10. The 37-year old mother of three young children, including twin boys, and the wife of Dan Turton, President Obama’s chief liaison to the House of Representatives, was on her way to work. Later that day, an announcement would come from Duke Power that it was buying Progress Energy for $26 billion, creating the largest power utility in the United States.

Ashley Turton would never make it to work that day. Turton’s car was engulfed in flames after she turned the ignition. The Washington Metropolitan Police Department, which can always be counted on to come up with the best fiction any time there is a suspicious death with political implications, surmised that Turton’s car was involved in a “low-speed” crash in her garage with a work bench that triggered a chemical fire. But to top it all off, the police said an “unknown medical condition” was also likely involved in what was described as a “freaky” accident . . .

Based on the presence of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, and former Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) at Turton’s funeral service on January 14 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, there is little doubt that Turton and her husband were a “power couple” in the nation’s capital. But there was also a sense from those in attendance, including members of Ashley Turton’s family from North Carolina, that all the information about Ashley’s tragic death was not being brought forward by the police or the fire department.

In her eulogy of her former chief of staff, DeLauro spoke of someone who could exude the mannerisms of the “southern belle” but who was also politically attuned. DeLauro said that Ashley’s two favorite expressions belied her on-the-surface Southern charm: “shit fire” and “rat bastard.” DeLauro said that she had not heard such language “since Rahm Emanuel moved out of Stan’s and my basement.” DeLauro’s reference was to the rent-free use by Emanuel of her and her husband, Democratic lobbyist Stan Greenberg’s, townhouse, while Emanuel was a congressman from the Illinois 5th congressional district from 2003 to 2008.

DeLauro said she last saw Ashley Turton at her and Greenberg’s Christmas Party. DeLauro last communicated with Ashley Turton on January 5, the day the new Congress was sworn in. Ashley Turton was at a political event in Arizona where featured speakers included Democratic pollster and lobbyist James Carville, Greenberg’s business partner, and Karl Rove, the chief political adviser to President George W. Bush. Ashley Turton indicated to DeLauro that while she would probably attend Carville’s session, she probably would not bother with Rove’s.

Ashley Turton’s friends described in Turton a person who had an appetite for possible gossip. In some cases, while discussing a juicy bit of political rumor, Ashley Turton would tell her friends, usually over a glass of wine, that “this conversation needs to go out on the porch.” Ashley Turton confided in a close friend that she wanted to leave Washington and return to North Carolina to raise her family.

Considering Ashley Turton’s job as DeLauro’s chief of staff, legislative aide, and press secretary for a number of years; Emanuel’s use of DeLauro’s townhouse while he was a member of the House and in charge of doling out or withholding Democratic Party funds to candidates around the country; the presence of Greenberg’s partner Carville and Rove at the Arizona political confab attended by Ashley Turton’s just five days before her suspicious death, the question will always remain: What “juicy gossip” might have Ashley Turton taken with her to the grave?
Yes, let's not forget Chicago's future mayor and Obama pal Rahm Emanuel got an apartment in Congressman DeLauro's Capitol Hill residence she owns with her husband, BP lobbyist Stan Greenberg, rent-free, a clear violation of House ethics rules for which Emanuel was given a total pass. As Madsen noted in a recent interview, Emanuel's transgressions were arguably worse than those of U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, who was recently censored for violating House ethics rules. I won't hold my breath waiting to see a products liability lawsuit filed against BMW for Turton's wrongful death either.

Illinois Income Tax Increase Hits Middle and Low Income Taxpayers Hardest

Democrats are always clamoring to soak the rich with higher taxes, who they insist aren't paying their share, but in Illinois, where Democrats control state government, their 66% increase in the state income tax from 3% to 5% is hitting middle and lower income workers the hardest. The Springfield Journal-Register explains:

All Illinoisans are going to feel the impact of the state’s income tax increase, but experts on both sides of the issue say low- and middle-income families will be hit the hardest.

“It’s especially going to hurt lower-income folks — those who are just starting out in careers or are struggling for whatever reason, who have incomes in the $20,000-$40,000 range,” said John Tillman, chief executive of the conservative think tank Illinois Policy Institute.

“Here’s what people miss when they discuss this tax increase — the incremental cost of this tax increase, comes off of the last dollar saved or spent by anyone.”
The Journal-Register highlights the impact of the tax increase on one family who recently moved to Illinois from Florida but is now planning to move back to Florida because of their tax burden:

Alfonso Lee, 42, who works in document management at the Willard Ice Building – ironically, the headquarters of the Illinois Department of Revenue -- and said the tax increase was “crazy.” He moved to Springfield from Florida with his two children a year and a half ago, when his wife got a job at Memorial Medical Center.

“It is going to make it harder to take care of our family,” Lee said. “We’ve got two cars, but we’re both riding the bus. Gas is high, taxes are high, we’re riding the bus to make ends meet.”

Lee and his wife make a total less than $50,000 a year, and the tax increase has hit his wife’s paycheck especially hard, he said. The family plans to move back to Florida.

“If they’re going to raise taxes, tax the alcohol and the cigarettes — something that hurts people,” Lee said. “If you’re going to raise taxes, raise it on that. That will help people, instead of hurting them.”
What makes the tax hike even more burdensome on low- and middle- income families is that average personal income has fallen for the bottom 60 percent of Illinois wage earners over the past 40 years, said Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, which has long advocated for a tax increase, but with progressive reforms to the tax structure.

“Imposing a tax burden on them is difficult with the decline in personal income,” Martire said. “It contributes to the growing income inequality between them and the top 30 percent.”

Between 1979 and 2008, the median wage in Illinois fell 3.2 percent, from $34,757 to $33,654 in 2009 dollars, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data published by the center. The median wage fell an additional $333 in 2009, to $33,321.

“It’s very clear from a tax-policy standpoint that Illinois needs more tax equity,” Martire said.

The really disturbing statistic is how wages have fallen at the same time the cost-of-living staples have increased substantially, even if the government's way of calculating inflation tells you otherwise. The argument in the Journal-Register's article turns to whether Illinois should change its income tax from being a flat tax as opposed to a progressive tax.

Forty-one states tax individual income. Of those, seven, including Illinois, have flat rates -- everyone is taxed at the same rate. The remaining 34 states have progressive tax rates -- taxpayers are grouped into brackets depending on how much they earn. High earners pay higher income tax rates.

“Because it taxes based on people’s ability to pay, the progressive income tax … could be said to be fairer,” Bouman said.
When I used to work for the Illinois legislature, I staffed the House Revenue Committee. One of the things we always prided ourselves in was our flat income tax because we were able to maintain a very low tax rate that was very simple and easy to administer. At that time, the rate was 2% compared to the 5% rate being collected today. Indiana has a flat 3.4% tax rate but there are local income taxes imposed on top of the state tax in a number of communities, including Indianapolis, and Indiana's exemption amount is even lower than Illinois'. Indianpolis' local income tax adds 1.65% to the rate, which means we are actually taxed higher than Illinois' tax rate even with their 66% income tax increase. In that sense, Gov. Daniels and Mayor Ballard are way off base if they think taxpayers and businesses are better off in Indiana if you are comparing the state's income tax rates. The average income tax rate in Indiana when adding in local income taxes is 4.83%, only slightly lower than Illinois' rate. To compare to the federal income tax, the story notes nearly half of all American taxpayers pay no federal income tax because they don't earn enough, or their deductions reduce their tax liability to zero. By comparison, only about 10% of taxpayers in Illinois don't pay state income taxes. The story notes Illinois does not tax retirement income.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Illinois Supreme Court Reverses Appellate Court Ruling Keeping Emanual Off Chicago Ballot

The Illinois Supreme Court came to the rescue of Rahm Emanuel and reversed a 2-1 state appellate court decision declaring him ineligible to run for Chicago mayor because he had not "resided in" Chicago for a period of at least one year prior to the election. The decision is unanimous. You can read it here. Emanuel will win the election in a walk and the corruption that drives the city will continue to thrive.

Charging Information On Cop Killer

Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry announced murder charges his office has filed against Thomas Hardy for Sunday's fatal shooting of IMPD Officer David Moore.

A detailed probable cause affidavit has been made available here on WTHR's website.

The charging information filed by Curry's office can be viewed here.

Interestingly, the Star's website a short time earlier had uploaded the probable cause affidavit and charge documents but later removed them. Upon viewing the WTHR documents, I now see why. The documents have been redacted to black out the names of police officers and witnesses who participated in the investigation; the documents posted earlier on the Star's website were not redacted. WRTV still has an unredacted version of the probable cause affidavit here, but it probably won't be for much longer. WISH-TV has a redacted version of the documents.

At Least 10 States Considering Ballot Access Legislation For Presidential Candidates

In the wake of the controversy during the 2008 presidential election concerning the constitutional eligibility of the two major party candidates for president that has persisted long after Obama's election, at least ten states are now actively considering legislation to require presidential candidates to provide evidence they meet the constitutional eligibility requirements in order to gain access to their state's election ballot. WND summarizes the legislation here. This is the part of the story discussing Indiana's SB 114, which is sponsored by Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel):

In Indiana it was Sen. Mike Delph who proposed SB114 to require candidates to provide a certified copy of their birth certificate and include an affirmation they meet the Constitution's requirements for the president.

It calls for the candidates "to certify that the candidate has the qualifications provided in Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution" and accompany that certification with "a certified copy of the candidate's birth certificate, including any other documentation necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications."

In also provides "that the election division may not certify the name of a nominee for president or vice president of the United States unless the election division has received a nominee's certification and documentation."

On his blog, commentator Gary Welsh observed that state law already requires the elections division to deny ballot access to unqualified candidates:

"However, it makes no provision for requiring candidates to furnish any evidence with their declaration of candidacy to indicate whether they are eligible to hold the office. Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution requires a person to be a natural born citizen, at least 35 years of age and have resided within the United States for at least 14 years in order to be eligible to be president. Under Delph's legislation, no major party candidate will be eligible for the Indiana presidential primary unless they file a declaration of candidacy attesting that he or she meets the constitutional eligibility requirements and furnish the state election's division with a certified copy of the candidate's birth certificate and any other evidence the Commission may require to establish the candidate satisfies the constitutional eligibility requirements."

He cited the "unprecedented" 2008 election, where "the candidates nominated by both major parties for president had questions raised by citizens about their eligibility, which resulted in dozens of lawsuits being filed across the country. Sen. John McCain's birth in Panama where his father was serving his country in the Navy led to lawsuits being filed against his candidacy, while questions about the birthplace of Barack Obama resulted in even more lawsuits being filed challenging his eligibility.

"Obama furnished to what was purported to be a certified copy of his birth certificate [the online certification of live birth], although questions lingered about his natural born status because his father was not a U.S. citizen and persistent Internet rumors that he was actually born in Kenya and not Hawaii as he claimed."

But he said the issue was that neither candidate was "required to furnish any election authority with any document such as a birth certificate ... ."

He said, "After [Sen. John] McCain was nominated at the Republican National Convention, Republican officials filed with the elections division a certificate of nomination that attested both he and his vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, met the eligibility requirements set out in the U.S. Constitution. The certificate of nomination filed by Democratic Party officials for Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, contained no similar attestation.

"Critics will no doubt poke fun at SB114 and label Delph and those who support it as 'birthers.' To them I say it is no more absurd than the documentary proof required under state law for persons seeking a driver's license, or requiring all registered voters to present a valid picture ID in order to cast a vote in person at an election. And it certainly is no more burdensome than evidence required of ordinary citizens in any number of transactions," he said.

On Welsh's blog, a forum participant wrote, "All I can say is he is the only president in my memory who has not only REFUSED to present medical records, tax records, birth records, college records, etc., but he has hired a battalion of lawyers who vigorously fight every effort to force him to. Why is he so secretive?"

IMPD's Other Fallen Officer

While the attention has been focused on the tragic shooting death of Officer David Moore this week, another IMPD officer died this week as well. Thirty-one year old Officer Jason Jordan, who worked at the north district where Officer Moore also worked, died on Monday. While there has been some speculation in the comment thread of this blog on the cause of Jordan's death, let's just remember and honor his service as well here and extend our thoughts and prayers to his family. His obituary as it appears in today's Star.

Officer Jason Alan Jordan age 31, of Indianapolis, passed away January 24, 2011. Formerly of the Marion County Sheriff's Department, he was currently employed with IMPD where he was assigned to the Metro Drug Task Force. He was also a member of FOP Lodge #86. He leaves to cherish his memory his wife, Lee Ann; sons, Jack and Cooper; parents, Jim Sr. and Kathy Jordan; brother, Jim (Missy) Jordan; and a host of extended relatives and friends. Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 29 at the St. Luke United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th St., with visitation hours from 4 p.m to 8 p.m. on Friday, January 28 in Crown Hill Funeral Home. Memorial contributions in Jason's honor may be made to the Jordan Family Trust at 1502 E. Washington St., 46201 or The Healing Place, 1020 W. Market St., Louiville, KY 40202. Online condolences may be shared at:

Illinois Court Ruling Throws State's Financial Future Into Further Uncertainty

The state of Illlinois' efforts to close a multi-billion dollar budget deficit after raising state income taxes by two-thirds recently took a big hit yesterday after a state appellate court ruled that legislation funding a $31 billion dollar public works program was unconstitutional. The legislation in question enacted a series of tax and fee increases to fund a major public works program touted by Gov. Pat Quinn.The problem according to the court was that the original legislation dealt with the state's inheritance and generation-skipping tax but it was expanded to include more than one subject in violation of the state constitution's single subject requirement for all bills. The Sun-Times reports on Judge Patrick Quinn's unanimous opinion, who is no relation to Gov. Quinn:

In a stunning blow to Gov. Quinn’s administration, an Illinois appeals court Wednesday tossed out the $31 billion construction program passed in 2009 that has been a centerpiece of his job-creation efforts.

In so doing, the three-member appeals panel also invalidated video poker, partial state lottery privatization, higher liquor and sales taxes and other revenues that add up to $1.1 billion, money that was designed to support massive borrowing for the bricks-and-mortar program.

Quinn vowed an immediate appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Reversing a lower court’s decision, the appeals court ruled unanimously that the General Assembly’s passage of the tax and fee hikes that underwrote the construction program violated the single-subject clause of the state Constitution. That clause says a bill can only deal with one specific issue, not a multitude of them.

The law in question “began as a five-page bill addressing the narrow subject of amending the Illinois estate and generation-skipping transfer tax. As enacted on July 13, 2009, [it] grew to 280 pages covering a variety of subjects,” wrote Justice Patrick J. Quinn, who is not related to the governor.

Within that sprawling package were the legalization of video poker, a partial privatization of the lottery, a boost in sales tax on candy, soft drinks and grooming products, an increase in taxes on wine, beer and hard liquor, and a hike in vehicle registration fees. It also contained a requirement that the University of Illinois conduct a study on the effect on families that purchase lottery tickets.

“In the present case, not all of the provisions of [the law] have a natural and logical connection to the single subject of revenue to the state. For example, we discern no natural and logical connection between the subject of revenue and the amendment to the University of Illinois Act to require the university to conduct a study on the effect on Illinois families of members of the family purchasing Illinois lottery tickets,” Justice Quinn wrote.
The lawsuit that triggered yesterday's ruling was brought by Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz and his family's liquor distributorship, which objected to the disproportionately higher tax on liquor
imposed by the new law. Wirtz is also a major investor in the company that owns the Sun-Times. Ironically, the Sun-Times endorsed Quinn's re-election as governor despite his tax and spend mentality. The story relates the potential impact on the state's precarious budget that already has bond holders uneasy:

So far, the state has borrowed $2.2 billion in construction funds that are linked to the threatened tax and fee hikes. The state has collected $425 million from the increases. If Wednesday’s ruling stands and the original money generators don’t get re-enacted, bond holders would have to be paid with dollars from the state’s deficit-riddled General Revenue Fund that now covers state government’s day-to-day operations, said Kelly Kraft, a spokeswoman for Quinn’s budget office.

If Wednesday’s decision is not overturned, Gov. Quinn will face an unexpectedly difficult and financially uncertain spring legislative session that many observers had expected to be relatively tame. Now, after passage of the politically unpopular income-tax hike, he could be faced with scaling back the construction plan or persuading re-enactment of the stricken tax and fee increases, borrowing and video poker that has been rejected by dozens of communities.

“For those who supported this most recent tax increase and then went home and heard from their constituents, what will your reaction be to another vote on fee and tax increases, which were part of the original capital proposal?” said Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine), who said it is not a certainty that Republicans in a new Legislature will agree to the same framework as before on a construction package. “We’re in a different time.”

The prospect of having to go back to the Legislature and win backing again for billions of dollars in construction borrowing is further complicated by Gov. Quinn’s push for a separate $8.75 billion borrowing package he had intended to seek this spring to whittle down the state’s backlog of unpaid bills.
One has to wonder why the state would have recklessly gone on this tax, borrow and spend frenzy to fund such a large capital program when it already faced such difficulty in paying bills to fund basic state services. The state has faced huge criticism for its decision to hike income taxes by two-thirds, a move that has prompted the leaders of other states, including Indiana, to woo the state's businesses away. Gov. Quinn said at the time the income tax increase was necessary to assuage the state's bondholders because of the state's low credit rating that increased borrowing costs for the state.  Some wonder if states like Illinois and California will be forced into bankruptcy under the crush of their growing deficits and inability to repay debts.

I would point out Indiana has a similar single subject requirement for legislation in its state constitution, although the provision has been rarely enforced and legislation often encompasses a wide range of subjects. Indiana, interestingly, went bankrupt back in early 1800s after it borrowed heavily to construct a series of canals across the state. The growth of railroads made the canals a less viable form of transporting goods, leaving the state short of fees necessary to repay bondholders for the construction costs of the canals. Many new financial limitations were imposed when the state enacted a new constitution after that debacle limiting the ability of the state and local governments to incur debt. Loopholes in the interpretation of those provisions have allowed governmental entities to skirt most of those limitations.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm A Democrat, But I Support Lugar

The Indianapolis Star has been using both its news pages and editorial pages shamelessly to promote the re-election of Indiana's six-term Senator Richard Lugar. A popular meme of the editors as of late is to find every Democrat within reach to tout his accomplishments and stature who always offer helpful political advice and warnings to Republicans who might be tempted to look for someone else to represent Hoosiers in Washington after 36 years. Today's offering was particularly amusing. It was none other than Jen Wagner of Taking Down Words infamy, the snarky blogger and former communications director for the Indiana Democratic Party. The former blogger of the past had nothing good to say about any Republicans, particularly Mitch Daniels. She also directed lots of poisonous venom at the citizen activists who mucked up her beloved Bart Peterson's re-election campaign in 2007. After The One fooled the American people and Hoosiers into sending him to the White House she took a job in his administration as a flack at the obscure National Nuclear Security Administration where she discovered Sen. Lugar was a rock star and cannot possibly conceive why Republicans wouldn't want him to continue serving in the Senate for life. Wagner writes in a column entitled "Oust Lugar, That Isn't Smart":

It is no exaggeration to say that in nuclear security circles Lugar is a rock star. If he wanted bowls of green M&Ms in his dressing room, they'd be handpicked by wonky groupies who spend their time poking around aging nuclear reactor sites in countries with names most people can't pronounce.

Lugar's bipartisan work with former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn back in the early 1990s led to the establishment of the Cooperative Threat Reduction program under which more than 7,500 nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union have been deactivated and destroyed. The program, which also addresses the threat from chemical and biological weapons, has resulted in security upgrades at nuclear storage facilities in the region and the downblending of dangerous fissile material that's no longer needed in a post-Cold War era.

This is serious stuff, backlit by nightmarish could-be scenarios that would keep me awake at night if I didn't have full confidence in folks like Obama, Lugar and my former colleagues to carefully craft and execute a far-reaching, diplomatic agenda aimed at protecting us from the threat of nuclear material or weapons falling into the wrong hands.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the key role Lugar played in generating Republican votes for the ratification of the New START treaty late last year. Often standing alone on his side of the aisle, Lugar repeatedly steered the debate away from political distraction and back to the merits of the treaty, a priority for Obama to help improve our relationship with Russia. After months of wrangling, the treaty passed with bipartisan support from Lugar -- and a dozen of his Republican colleagues.

Having heaped all of this praise on Lugar, Wagner couldn't pass up the opportunity the Star offered her to slam Sen. Mike Delph, who has been mentioned as a possible challenger to Lugar in the 2012 Republican primary, in her characteristic snarky, elitist fashion:

Do Hoosiers really want to trade in an accomplished public servant like Lugar for a guy, for example, whose legislative priorities include creating a tea party license plate and requiring presidential candidates to file birth certificates for ballot access?

If the Star's editors think they are helping Lugar's re-election chances by flooding its editorial and news pages with Lugar propaganda, they're only fooling themselves. It will work as well as their propaganda in support of Bart Peterson's re-election in 2007. And if Dick Lugar thought he had problems being labeled "Richard Nixon's Favorite Mayor" during his unsuccessful Senate race against Birch Bayh in 1974, he's going to have even greater problems to the extent his Republican rivals can label him "Barack Obama's Favorite Senator".

And don't kid yourselves. These Democratic friends of Lugar won't be voting for him in 2012. "Let the record reflect that I don't agree with Lugar on a great many things, particularly some of his more recent votes and statements that have clearly been aimed at defending against a primary challenge," Wagner cautions. "I believe Democrats will nominate a strong candidate next year to make sure Hoosiers have a choice when they go to the polls, and I know that candidate will articulate the reasons why he or she would be best positioned to stand up for working families in Washington . . .  I am a Democrat, and I want to see a Democrat representing Indiana in the U.S. Senate," she adds. Spoken like the paid political flack for the Democratic Party she is. If Dick Lugar wants another six years in the Senate, he needs to learn how to speak to rank-and-file Republican  and independent voters, not the cheerleading squad for the opposing team.

Drive-By Media Continues Hits On Palin The Facts Be Damned

Palin Derangement Syndrome continues to cloud the judgment of our left-leaning media in all matters pertaining to Sarah Palin. The National Enquirer claimed a bombshell story linking Palin's husband Todd to a female massage therapist busted in Anchorage for prostitution. "The scandal not only has the potential to sabotage Palin's possible 2012 White House bid, but also threatens to destroy her marriage sources say," declared the gossip tabloid. It appears the tabloid relied on an anonymous e-mail to tie Todd Palin to Shailey Tripp, the woman accused of prostitution. "My sources reveal that a massage therapist and computer technologist, Shailey Tripp, has an affair with Todd Palin that lead [sic] to her arrest March of 2010," claimed the anonymous e-mail relied upon by the National Enquirer. The anonymous e-mail claimed tenants saw Todd coming and going frequently from Tripp's office and heard noises "that sounded like someone was having sex."

Soon after the story broke in the National Enquirer, it was picked up by the New York Daily News, Vanity Fair magazine, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine and lefty Internet bloggers of all stripes. Apparently, nobody bothered to contact the Anchorage Police Department in the media's frenzy to inflict damage on Palin, who we recently witnessed being unfairly blamed for the horrific Tucson shootings by Jared Loughner that left a federal judge dead, U.S. Rep. Gabbie Gifford seriously wounded and more than a dozen others killed or injured. Last night, the Anchorage Police Department responded to the scurilous accusations against Todd Palin with the following statement:

The Anchorage Police Department investigation and arrest of Shailey Tripp has recently been mischaracterized in internet blogs and in a National Enquirer article. Several errors regarding the investigation and arrest were reported in the Enquirer article (printed and internet versions):

•None of the physical evidence examined by police showed any connection to Wasilla resident Todd Palin and his name did not appear in any of the records seized by APD.

•The investigation of the prostitution operation was initiated by Anchorage Police Department’s Vice Unit responding to internet advertisements, not through information developed from any tips or other persons.

•No rolodex was seized and taken into evidence.

•The National Enquirer has not contacted Anchorage Police Department Public Affairs Unit to fact check its story so their reported “call to Anchorage Police Department” could not have been returned.

•“Bloggers” have had no access to the evidence seized so their linking of evidence in police custody to any other person is incorrect.
Yeah, some anonymous nobody fabricates a total lie, just like they did when they claimed Palin's daughter Bristol actually gave birth to her son Trigg and the Palins were simply covering up for their daughter's teen-age pregnancy during the 2008 presidential race shortly after John McCain picked her to be his vice-presidential running mate, and everyone on the Left runs with the story and prints it as fact without even bothering to check it out. Will any of them apologize to the Palins? Hell no. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a part of the crowd urging Palin to run for president in 2012. I personally like her, but I don't think she is a good choice to lead this country. I just don't understand the whole Palin Derangement Syndrome that leads these people to resort to such extreme measures to demonize and discredit her and her family.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

End-Of-Life Measures Taken For Officer David Moore

Very sad news comes this evening from a brief statement given by IMPD Chief Paul Ciesielski at Wishard Hospital. Doctors determined the injuries he sustained from Sunday morning's shooting were worse than earlier thought after reviewing the results of an MRI scan taken today and that he would not recover from his injuries. His family has authorized steps to begin the process of ending life support systems that are keeping him alive and donating his organs. Moore would become Indianapolis' tenth murder victim of the year and is one of ten law enforcement officers across the country shot while in the line of duty in recent days. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Moore family, which has many years of service as police officers for this community. Both of Moore's parents served as IMPD officers for many years. Indiana Department of Correction officials have admitted the man who shot Moore, Thomas Hardy, was mistakenly released from the Marion Co. jail after he was arrested for theft while out on parole. Hardy had 11 prior convictions prior to committing a string of thefts in November. At the time of his arrest Sunday evening, he was suspected of not only shooting Officer Moore, but stealing a car and robbing a store while holding up a store clerk at gunpoint. Mayor Greg Ballard earlier announced he was delaying his planned state of the city address scheduled this week in light of the latest development.

UPDATE: The Indiana Department of Correction announced this afternoon it has suspended without pay the parole officer responsible for monitoring Hardy as it continues to investigate a tragic set of errors that made it possible for Hardy to be on the streets and inflict so much harm. The department did not identify the suspended parole officer.

UPDATE II: WTHR is reporting Officer Moore passed away early this morning a day after the decision was made to remove life support.

Hope For Rahm

The Illinois Supreme Court has come to his rescue and granted a stay allowing Rahm Emanuel's name to appear on the Chicago mayoral ballot for now while the appeal of his residency dispute plays out with the state's high court.

Vop Osili Will Become My Councilor

Well, the Democrats in my city-county council district gave me Patrice Abduallah for nearly a term until I proved the guy never lived in the boarded up abandoned house in my district he claimed as a residence and was forced to resign. They appointed Andre Carson to the seat to pave the way for his ascension to his grandmother's congressional seat when she died. Next, they foisted Doris Minton-McNeil, an IPS employee who had a number of run-ins with police due to drinking problems on us. Now they're forcing asking Minton-McNeil to step aside to provide an elected office for their losing candidate for Secretary of State, Vop Osili. The Star reports:

Former Indiana secretary of state candidate Vop Osili is making a run for the City-County Council seat now occupied by fellow Democrat Doris Minton-McNeill.

Minton-McNeill said in an e-mail sent to Democrats on Monday that she won't seek another term in the District 15 seat in this year's election. Her message says Osili is running, and she will support him.

Osili could not be reached Monday but has been notifying Democrats of his decision. He lost the November election for secretary of state to Republican Charlie White.

Council District 15 covers parts of the Westside, the Near Northside and Downtown. Minton-McNeill was appointed in 2008 to replace Andre Carson after his election to the U.S. House.

Osili is assured of winning the seat because the district is so gerrymandered in favor of the Democrats it is a waste of time for a Republican to run in the district. At least this time the Democrats are picking someone who is qualified for the job and might actually make an effort to represent the "other people" who have been thrown into this largely African-American district.

More On State Correction Officials Admit Police Shooter Slipped Through The Cracks

It only takes one really bad case to reveal flaws in our state correction systems and the case of police shooter Thomas Hardy is proving to be that case for the administration of Gov. Mitch Daniels. The Star's Carrie Ritchie has more on the admission of Department of Correction officials that two key mistakes made by Thomas Hardy allowed a man with a criminal record a mile long to be freed after he had been arrested and jailed in November for theft despite 11 prior convictions:

A state prison official admitted Monday that the suspect in the shooting of an Indianapolis police officer might never have been on the streets if either of two crucial steps had been taken after a previous arrest.

Mistake one: Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison said the department failed to enter the parole status of Thomas X. Hardy, 60, into a law enforcement database.

If it had, Garrison said, Marion County Jail officials would have known Hardy was on parole when he was arrested Nov. 19 on felony theft charges. Garrison said the jailers might have contacted the DOC in such a circumstance.

Mistake two: Parole officers are supposed to perform regular checks of the database to determine whether parolees have been arrested. Marion County Jail officials had entered the November arrest, but his parole officer hadn't checked the database.

Garrison said that if DOC officials had known that Hardy was being held in Marion County Jail last month -- either by being contacted by the jail or noticing the arrest in the database -- officials likely would have asked the jail to keep him in custody until a parole board could review his case.

Instead, he was freed after posting $15,000 bail on Dec. 21.

"We regret that any failure of the DOC to properly follow its internal processes resulted in the premature release of Hardy," Garrison said, "and like all citizens of Indiana, our sympathies and prayers are with the officer and his family."

Garrison said officials are trying to determine why Hardy's case slipped through the cracks, but he said the DOC would use the situation as an opportunity to "tighten (our) procedures."

"There certainly has to be a re-emphasis of oversight," Garrison said.

While the immediate focus is on the Department of Correction's mistakes that allowed the release of Hardy, you can't help but wonder why nobody at the county jail or the prosecutor's office had become familiar enough with Hardy because of his numerous prior arrests and time spent in the county jail awaiting sentencing for multiple prior convictions, many of which took place soon after he was released from prison.
Ritchie provides more details on the circumstances that resulted in his November arrest. It turns out he was suspected of stealing TVs from a Target store at Glendale over a several day period:
Hardy was arrested in November after security officers at the Glendale Target on North Keystone Avenue caught him trying to shoplift two televisions. They eventually linked him to similar thefts that occurred on Nov. 14, 17 and 18 at the same store, according to police records and court affidavits.

He told officers then that he planned to sell the TVs to make money because the economy was bad.

He was released from the Marion County Jail on Dec. 21 after posting bond.

Family and corrections officials naturally insist there were no signs the 60-year-old Hardy was capable of committing violent offenses, even if he was a serial thief.
Hardy had been on parole since being released from prison in October 2009. He was considered to be a low-risk parolee for several reasons, including the fact that he was considered nonviolent. Though he had been arrested for parole violations in the past, he had been seeing his parole officer regularly, Garrison said. He could have been off parole in March if he had avoided arrest . . .
Though Hardy spent about 19 of the last 27 years in prison for committing an assortment of crimes, his family doesn't think he would be capable of shooting a police officer.

He didn't make it past the 10th grade at Crispus Attucks High School and, during various interviews with police, he reported himself as unemployed except for stints in maintenance in 2006 and construction in 1998. He had no spouse and said his parents were deceased.

Hardy never exhibited any violent tendencies or carried a gun and never showed any animosity toward police, said his niece, Cynthia Cody, 51, Indianapolis.

"I'm just sick about everything," Cody said. "I am sick for my family, and I am sick for the officers' family. This is not in my uncle's character."
So you can see where this argument is headed. It's society's fault and, in particular, employers who didn't want to give Hardy a job because of his past criminal record. Yeah, corrections officials screwed up, but if only someone would have offered him a job, he wouldn't have stolen a car, shot a cop and held up a store at gunpoint after he was mistakenly released.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cashill Continues To Cast Doubts On Obama's Narrative

Anyone who bothers to dig the slightest into the carefully-crafted narrative Barack Obama and his media guru, David Axelrod, concocted to sell his brand to the American people discover it is chalked full of lies and inconsistencies. Unfortunately, the media today is more concerned about protecting the invented narrative than reporting facts when it comes to Obama. Jack Cashill, an independent writer, does the leg-lifting the American media simply refuses to do when it comes to Obama. The lazy, Obama-loving media takes the easy way out and declares anyone who challenges the Obama narrative as a "crazy birther." Cashill looks at the facts, including Obama's own past statements, which completely unravel the narrative.

Obama has often-repeated the claim that his reputed father, Barack Obama, Sr., abandoned him and his mother when he was only two years old. "My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother," quotes from Obama's speech to American school children in 2009. "In his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father, Obama made the same claim," Cashill notes. "He had left Hawaii back in 1963," [Obama] wrote of Obama Sr., "when I was only two years old." What Obama fails to mention, as Cashill points out, is that Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, moved with her new-born son to Seattle, Washington where she enrolled in college at the University of Washington on August 19, 1961, a little more than two weeks after Obama's birth on August 2, 1961. His father remained in Hawaii where he was enrolled in college at the University of Hawaii.

Obama later spoke with disdain in his book upon reading an old article from the Honolulu Advertiser in which his father discussed his planned move to Harvard. "No mention is made of my mother or me, and I'm left to wonder whether the omission was intentional on my father's part, in anticipation of his long departure," Obama wrote. "What Obama does not mention is that the article was dated June 22, 1962," Cashill adds. Obama and his mother were still living in Seattle at the time. "He was not yet a year old at the time Obama Sr. left Hawaii for good," Cashill observes. "More to the point, Obama fails to mention that he and his mother, Ann Dunham, were living in Seattle at the time and had been since at least August 19, 1961, the day she enrolled at the University of Washington."

Cashill's research of Obama's family history suggests Obama's mother and father never lived together as husband and wife. Obama even acknowledged as much in his book in one passage where he relates the murkiness surrounding the marriage between his parents. They were supposedly married in Maui, not on Oahu where his parents lived at the time of their marriage, and there is no record of their marriage or knowledge of anyone who witnessed their marriage. Obama himself writes in Dreams, "In fact, how and when the marriage occurred remains a bit murky, a bill of particulars that I've never quite had the courage to explore." "No one attended the wedding -- not Abercrombie, not Ann's parents," Cashill writes. "In fact, no one in Barack Sr.'s clique seemed to know there was a relationship, let alone a wedding."

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has claimed that he knew Obama's parents and their child and saw them all socially together in the early 1960s, but Cashill has totally discredited his claims. Abercrombie has suggested to the media Obama's parents became estranged after he left for Harvard, but it's hard to explain why they weren't estranged when Obama's mother left Hawaii with child in tow just days after his birth to attend college at the University of Washington while his father remained behind in Hawaii. "I don't know about Hawaii, but in Missouri, if you flee your husband with baby in tow two weeks after his birth, that qualifies as 'estrangement'", Cashill quips. Further discrediting Abercrombie, Cashill writes, "When Neil Abercrombie and Zane visited their friend in Nairobi in 1968, Barack Sr. shocked them by never once inquiring about his putative wife and 6-year-old son." And lest we forget Abercrombie's pledge as Hawaii's new governor to produce the definitive birth records on file with the state to disprove doubters, only to later tell us just to take his word for it--"it's written down--in the state archives."

Obama acknowledges in his book that his father had children by at least four different women, including two American women. "In Dreams, Obama's cryptic and contrarian Aunt Sarah would tell her presumed nephew, ' ... the children who claim to be Obama's are not Obama's,'" Cashill notes. "Obama must have wondered whether she was referring to him," he adds. On this point, Obama suggests his mother had a problem establishing his relationship with his father when he died, unlike the other American woman who claimed two children by him. "Curiously, when Obama found the article about Obama Sr.'s departure [from Hawaii], he found it 'folded away among my birth certificate and old vaccination forms,'" Cashill writes. "Later in Dreams, in a passage heretofore overlooked, Obama unwittingly reveals that there may have been problems with that birth certificate," Cashill adds. "On the occasion of his father's death in 1982, lawyers contacted anyone who might have claim to the estate," Cashill writes. "Unlike my mum," Obama tells his half-sister Auma in Dreams, "Ruth has all the documents needed to prove who Mark's father was." Cashill reason, "Ruth obviously could produce a marriage license and a birth certificate for her son Mark."  "Ann Dunham apparently could not do the same for her son Barack, at least not one that could tie him to Obama Sr. -- not even with a potential payoff on the table." Did Obama himself not produce the smoking gun?

Obama makes clear in his book he had in his possession a birth certificate with his vaccination forms where he found the folded up article about his father leaving Hawaii for Harvard. The birth certificate the media has relied upon as proof of Obama's birth in Hawaii is a certificate of birth issued by the state of Hawaii in 2007, which is clearly not the same birth certificate Obama had at the time he wrote Dreams. "The long form birth certificate could pose a number of problems other than country of origin, including the date of Obama's birth, the state of his birth, and the identity of his father," Cashill explains. "Any one of these revelations could unravel the yarn that Obama has been spinning." Cashill concedes Obama was likely born in the United States despite his doubts about the family narrative. "Although the president was likely born in the United States, he may not have been born in Hawaii, he may not have been born in August 1961, he may not have been the son of Barack Sr., or he may have simply been listed as "white" on his birth certificate," he poses.

As Cashill observes, "The failure of the mainstream media to even address the inconsistencies in Obama's story is downright shameful." "That failure has created a windstorm of curiosity that is becoming increasingly difficult for the media to ignore." I simply do not understand why a media that was so concerned about whether Sarah Palin's daughter and not her gave birth to her child Trigg, whether George W. Bush completed his service in the Texas Air National Guard, or whether his father made a secret trip to France to derail President Carter's efforts to free the American hostages in Iran prior to the 1980 election, has no interest in learning and discovering the Obama biography beyond what has been spun to them by the politician and his media guru. Why do Indonesian school records list his name as "Barry Soetoro", identify his father as Lolo Soetoro, not Barack Obama, Sr., and list his citizenship as Indonesian, not American? And why must anyone who asks to know the answers to those questions be deemed a "crazy birther" and a "racist." The lack of curiosity among the mainstream media is alarming to say the least.

UPDATE: Jerome Corsi is reporting at WND a former Honolulu elections official, Timothy Adams, has signed an affidavit stating elections officials there were well aware no long form birth certificate of Obama's birth in Hawaii exists, and there was no record he was born at the hospital at which various news reports claim he was born.

Shocker: Illinois Appellate Court Tosses Rahm Emanuel From Chicago Mayoral Ballot

A hearing officer, the Chicago Board of Elections and a trial court all ruled Rahm Emanuel could remain a candidate on the Chicago mayoral ballot despite a contention from his primary opponents he could not satisfy the one-year residency requirement for being a candidate for mayor because he rented out his home in Chicago at which he was a registered voter while he served as President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff in Washington. Today, an appellate court disagreed with the earlier rulings and declared Emanuel ineligible to be on the ballot. The Chicago Tribune reports on this stunning development:

Rahm Emanuel should not appear on the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot, according to a ruling issued by a state appellate court today.

In a 2-1 ruling, the appellate panel said Emanuel does not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Chicago for a year prior to the election. The judges reversed a decision by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, which had unanimously agreed that Emanuel was eligible to run for mayor. (Read the ruling here.)

"We conclude that the candidate neither meets the Municipal Code's requirement that he have 'resided in' Chicago for the year preceding the election in which he seeks to participate nor falls within any exception to the requirement," the majority judges wrote.

"Accordingly, we disagree with the Board's conclusion that he is eligible to run for the office of Mayor of the City of Chicago. We reverse the circuit court's judgment confirming the Board's decision, set aside the Board's decision and ... order that the candidate's name be excluded (or, if necessary, removed) from the ballot."

The majority opinion was written by Appellate Justice Thomas E. Hoffman and concurred with by Presiding Appellate Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall.

Appellate Justice Bertina E. Lampkin wrote a dissenting opinion.

"I disagree with the majority's contrary conclusion that the candidate is not eligible to be on the ballot because that conclusion is based on an analysis of two issues --- establishing residency and a statutory exemption to the residency requirement --- that are not relevant to the resolution of this case."

Emanuel's campaign has not commented on the ruling, but previously both sides in the case said they planned to appeal the case all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Time is of the essence, however. Early voting starts a week from today on Jan. 31.

I would anticipate that the Illinois Supreme Court, which is Democratic-controlled, will reverse the appellate court; however, I never thought the Democratic-controlled appellate panel would toss Emanuel from the ballot. Emanuel is heavily favored in the race according to public opinion polls and has raised $12 million so far for his campaign, far more than any of his opponents. Here's a copy of the ruling. An interesting nuance raised by the majority opinion is a distinction between Emanuel's eligibility to vote in Chicago elections versus his right to be a candidate for public office. The court agreed he could legally vote in Chicago elections while working in his federal job in Washington, but the one-year residency requirement prevented him from being a candidate for office. "We agree with the candidate that his service constituted 'business of the United States' and thus that this exception applies to him," the majority ruled. "We disagree, however, with his position that the exception saves his candidacy. In our view, the exception embodied by section 3-2 of the Election Code applies only to voter residency requirements, not to candidate residency requirements."

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times have both been working overtime to ensure Emanuel's election by doing all they can to discredit his opponents while overlooking his long record of corruption in Chicago politics. Not surprisingly, the Sun-Times' editors quickly editorialized against today's appellate court ruling, accusing the appellate court panel of disenfranchising Chicago voters, a view they didn't hold when Barack Obama systematically got every single one of his primary opponents knocked off the Illinois Democratic primary ballot through legal maneuverings when he first ran for the state senate so he could walk into office without competition.

The truest words issued by an Illinois Appellate Court Justice on Monday were these:

Striking Rahm Emanuel’s name from the ballot for mayor of Chicago unfairly “disenfranchises … every voter in Chicago who would consider voting for him.”

Unfortunately, Justice Bertina E. Lampkin wrote those words in a dissent of the court’s majority opinion, which did indeed rule Emanuel off the ballot.

Emanuel may be far ahead in the race for mayor in every poll.

He may be a true Chicagoan by every common-sense definition.

He may have relocated to Washington only temporarily and only to serve his country, as chief of staff to President Obama.

But if this ruling stands, two appellate court justices, employing a rather narrow reading of state law and city ordinance, will have decided that you, the voters, cannot choose Emanuel to be your next mayor — tough luck, folks.

We can only hope that the Illinois Supreme Court will order an injunction keeping Emanuel’s name on the ballot and then reverse the lower court’s decision as soon as possible. Early voting for the Feb. 22 election begins Monday.

It would be particularly shameful — and fuel a few conspiracy theories — if the high court declined to even review the case.

As Lumpkin also wrote, “An opinion of such wide-ranging import and not based on established law but, rather, the whims of two judges, should not be allowed to stand.”

Inexplicably, however, the Appellate Court majority also declined Monday to certify this case for immediate review by the Supreme Court, apparently not deeming it a matter of great enough importance.

Now Emanuel’s lawyers must petition the high court themselves, a time-consuming process, while the clock ticks.

Let us be clear: The issue here is not who would be the best mayor of Chicago. At least half of all potential voters, according to a recent poll, think that would be somebody other than Emanuel. The issue is whether Emanuel fulfills the residency requirements, as set down in the law, to be on the ballot.

The appellate court majority — Justices Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall — read the law as saying Emanuale is eligible to vote in the mayoral election, but has not “resided in” town long enough to be a candidate. It is a pinched interpretation of the law — strict constructionist to the max — that ignores the lawmakers’ obvious intent.

And it ignores Emanuel’s obvious intent.

We prefer the logic of the Chicago Board of Election and the Cook County circuit court that Emanuel self-evidently never intended to terminate his legal residency in Chicago and never did.

He had established his residency long before 2009, and it was his challengers’ burden to prove he had abandoned the city — something they never convincingly did.
The Chicago Tribune chimes in with its own editorial blistering the two judges who tossed Emanuel from the ballot:

With startling arrogance and audaciously twisted reasoning, two appellate judges ignored more than 100 years of legal precedent, invented a new definition of "residency" and ordered Rahm Emanuel off the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot.
Some are questioning whether Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke should recuse herself from participating in the case Emanuel's attorneys plan to file because her husband, Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, supports one of Emanuel's opponents, Gery Chico, whose attorneys challenged Emanuel's eligibility. Emanuel's attorney Mike Kasper, tells The Capitol Fax Blog's Rich Miller he won't make a request Burke recuse herself. There is also a debate brewing over whether Emanuel could launch a write-in campaign for mayor if he is kept off the ballot. As it stands now, the Chicago Board of Elections plans to begin printing ballots for the election as soon as tomorrow without Emanuel's name on it. It delayed the printing before now in awaiting today's decision. Because the appellate court did not certify the case for automatic appeal to the state's supreme court, it will take longer for Emanuel's attorneys to get their case before that court. Emanuel's attorneys will no doubt seek a stay of the appellate court's order pending their appeal. There is no assurance the court will even take the case on appeal; it could let the appellate court ruling stand, particularly since there is no conflicting rulings at the appellate level according to one elections law expert. If Burke recused herself from the case, one elections attorney thinks it will be more difficult to get enough votes to overturn the appellate ruling because at least one Republican justice would have to join the remaining Democrats in that event.